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[FD113] Rare, Medium or Well-done?

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September 7 · Issue #113 · View online
The Friday Dispatch
Medium, at large.
My friend Brendan Hufford (@brendanhufford) is an absolute inspiration with how much of himself he pours into his video, written, and social content. He’s just 100% authentic, in all the things.
Brendan recently posted this great video and twitter thread about blogging on Medium.
If you’re thinking of ramping up your content efforts on the Medium platform, take a step back and watch this video to help you understand the downsides of going all-in on Medium.
Starting a blog on Medium.com? Watch this FIRST. - YouTube
B R E N D A N
Seriously, the herd mentality of people saying why you should publish on Medium is INSANE. Everybody keeps talking about how great their readership is but nobody has ever looked at their numbers and traffic sources. [thread]
8:44 AM - 5 Sep 2018
There’s a middle ground argument I’d like to offer…
Maybe, just maybe, Medium is “good enough” for 80% of us.
Okay, I don’t know the precise percentage. Maybe it’s 90%, or 60%, but for the sake of argument, l’m going with 80% (because Pareto).
If we go back to the dictionary meaning of the word “medium”—hear me out—we’re confronted with at least seven meanings for the word.
Seriously. You’re already rolling your eyes. Just let me finish. :)
Most of those dictionary definitions of “medium” (the word) accurately describe Medium (the content platform).
But in those definitions, I see a lesson on when Medium is an acceptable option for your blog.
Let’s take a look…
Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with this.
1. (noun) an agency or means of doing something. Also: a means by which something is communicated or expressed.
This certainly describes Medium. It’s a way of writing and publishing content. Good start here.
2. (noun) the intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses or a force acts on. Also: the substance in which an organism lives or is cultured.
Yup, Medium is absolutely an intervening substance. Medium sits between you and your readers—for better or worse.
3. (noun) a particular form of storage for digitized information, such as magnetic tape or discs.
Yep, this applies.
4. (noun) a liquid (e.g., oil or water) with which pigments are mixed to make paint. Also: the material or form used by an artist, composer, or writer.
Erm… this one is a stretch. Moving on…
5. (noun) a person claiming to be in contact with the spirits of the dead and to communicate between the dead and the living.
Dead people notwithstanding, we can agree Medium is a way to communicate.
6. (noun) the middle quality or state between two extremes; a reasonable balance.
1. (adjective) about halfway between two extremes of size or another quality; average. Also: (of cooked meat) halfway between rare and well-done.
Boom! There we go.
Medium is halfway between two extremes. A reasonable balance.
Let’s imagine one extreme is not having a blog at all, or (perhaps worse) having a blog and not doing anything to promote it or attract an audience to it. If we’re using that cooked meat analogy: this extreme would be the rare side.
Barely cooked, minimum effort given.
Here’s what that end of the spectrum looks like:

No blog. Or, a half-assed one.
I’m sad to admit that the MastermindJam blog is firmly on this end of the spectrum. Fail.
Exhibit A: MastermindJam blog, last updated: July 2015 😭

The opposite extreme is having a wildly successful blog, one with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, millions of page views for a large percentage of posts, a high rate of subscriber opt-in, and an observable ROI where the blog is a direct contributor to revenue.
Well-done, to carry the meat analogy further.*
Here’s what the top end looks like:
An amazing blog.
The Baremetrics blog and the Basecamp Signal vs. Noise blog both fit on this end of the spectrum. As does Paul Jarvis’ blog.
Excellent blogs, all.
With this definition—medium as an adjective—we see that Medium isn’t as good as a well-done, self-managed blog, but it is certainly better than nothing, and it is always better than a poorly-maintained, under-promoted blog.
Medium, then, is the middle ground:
With your own blog, you can control reach, you own the mailing list, you can see the stats of how your blog is helping you grow your business. When people bookmark or share your articles, they’re sharing your brand and everything it stands for.
By hosting your blog on Medium you’re giving up the reigns and most of the benefits of reaching the audience in the first place.
When someone reads your article on Medium, they remember Medium’s branding not yours, Medium’s UX not yours. When someone shares your Medium article, they’re sharing a link to Medium, not to your brand.
But at least with Medium, you’ve got a chance to reach someone.
If you don’t write or publish at all, or if you do publish to a poorly-promoted blog, those chances go to zero (or near-zero, at best).
Brendan points out that Medium’s content promotion algorithms unfairly favor those who already have a big following outside of Medium. Medium often amplifies things that are already popular, and often doesn’t give a fair shake for lesser-known authors to be seen.
Fair enough, that isn’t ideal.
But the same can be true if you post to your own blog.
If I post a quality piece of content to my blog, but do a sub-par job of promoting it, I’m leaving it up to Google to see fit to get the word out and bring people to my doorstep. The chances of that happening are less promising than the chances that someone finds your content on Medium.
The Medium algorithm is aligned with your goals in one important way…
Reader intent.
For all it’s flaws, Medium is good at bringing in readers.
People don’t come to Medium looking for your store hours, directions to a destination, concert tickets, or coupon codes. People don’t come to Medium to download music, to shop or to price compare.
People come to Medium to read.
Google’s goals are not always aligned with your goals. People searching a topic on Google may never see your article because the search intent is so much more variable and the search results so much more crowded.
So, let’s be blunt…
Growing a meaningful blog can be hard work. If you’re not ready or willing to put in that work, maybe you’re better off with something like Medium.
If you’re not driving traffic to your blog and taking steps to build your own audience, then Medium is the good-enough option.
If you’re not yet using your blog to boost ROI, add value to the customers you serve, or win mindshare in your niche, Medium can work just fine for you.
If nothing else, by publishing through Medium you’re building a winning habit of writing, editing, publishing, and responding to reader feedback. All while giving your posts a fighting chance of being read.
Instead of throwing a coin in an ocean, perhaps with Medium you’re throwing that coin into a wishing well.
Later, after you’ve developed a corpus of content, after you’ve developed a cadence of regular posts, and after you’ve gathered a modest following on Medium, you can feel free to do what Brendan and Baremetrics and many others have done: claw your content back from Medium and host it on your own platform so you can reap the rewards of being in full control of your audience.
Brendan is absolutely correct that it’s folly to build a business solely on someone else’s platform, but that’s not what I’m advocating here. Medium can be useful as a set of training wheels for your blog.
No, Medium isn’t a great fit for everyone.
The top 20% of great blogs do not belong on Medium. But, maybe the other 80% do.
Stick with Medium until you’ve outgrown it.
Stay on Medium until you have metrics that tell you how moving your content in-house is the right call. Don’t leave Medium before you have a solid plan for how you’re going to surpass their platform with your own, in key areas that matter most to your business.
If you’re not building a business with a well-done blog, then maybe medium is better than rare.
~~~
*Okay, okay… Yes, I agree that a well-done steak is an abomination.
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